By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COLUMBIA TUSCULUM - Housing is now part of a $24 million urban downtown that will mix shops, restaurants and offices in this East Side neighborhood.
Columbia Tusculum's Columbia Square project will hold about 60 condominiums and/or apartments on the second and third stories of one building and make up an entire other building. The project will consist of four buildings.
Three of the buildings will rise on the southeast corner of Delta Avenue and Columbia Parkway, including where a YMCA branch now sits.
The YMCA is moving to the East End Community School under construction at Stanley and Kellogg avenues. The school should open in fall 2005.
The fourth structure, a three-story office building, will emerge on the intersection's northwest corner and, eventually, town homes could rise nearby.
Columbia Square will be built in at least two phases over about a decade. The project hit a milestone recently when the developer, Al Neyer Inc. of Blue Ash, bought the land necessary to build it.
"Columbia Square presents a unique opportunity to re-knit this important community by creating a pedestrian friendly, vibrant town square," said Dave Neyer, the company's president.
Construction could begin later this year or in 2005, depending on the market, Neyer officials told residents gathered late Monday for Columbia Tusculum's monthly community council meeting at Carnegie Center.
No tenants have been announced. The project will bring at least 160 full-time jobs, city records show.
Plans also call for a landscaped center median and traffic light along Columbia Parkway between Delta and Stanley avenues to slow vehicles.
Neighbors long have anticipated the development. They say it would boost property values and reinvigorate Columbia Tusculum.
"It marks a rebirth in the community," said resident Ralph Aust, vice chairman of the Columbia Tusculum Community Development Corp.
"In years past, we had strong infrastructure of banks, shops and delis and all sorts of things that supported neighborhoods," he said. "Over the years, those have all closed. This brings back the opportunity to reinvent our neighborhood with a new shopping area."
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